Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have been privately suggesting to colleagues that they would support a confirmation vote for President Donald J. Trump‘s Supreme Court nominee if he selects a “John McCain Republican“.
The late Senator McCain is known for his opposition to abortion, except in the case of rape and the life of the mother. The Senators worry that a fiercely anti-abortion nomination would jeopardize Republican control of the chamber, with losses of seats in Maine and Arizona.
They also worry that an anti-abortion nominee would hurt the President in the electoral college, particularly with regard to moderate and independent women voters in the suburbs of Philadelphia and Detroit.
“Nominating a moderate woman to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg just before the election would be seen as a magnanimous act of statesmanship,” explains one political operative. “It would make it impossible for Chuck Schumer to grandstand on the nomination through the election — which they intend, in order to scare women voters to the polls.”
If Trump does decide to nominate a centrist Republican jurist, he may have to look beyond the lists he has circulated of his most favored jurists.
Senator Lindsey Graham is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a close ally of President Trump. He faces an election this year that polls suggest is more competitive than expected.
Graham was McCain’s closest political ally in the Senate for many years. It’s widely thought that Graham would be willing to hold a confirmation vote before the election if that nominee was in the mold of McCain’s centrist republicanism and “attempts to bring people together”.
One candidate who has been under White House consideration, but was previously seen as ‘too close to McCain’, given President Trump’s dislike of the former Senator, is federal District Court Judge Diane Humetewa.
Humetewa was a staff attorney on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs while McCain was Chairman; and for the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice. After college she began her career as a domestic violence victims’ advocate at the United States Attorney’s Office, then rejoined the Office as an Assistant United States Attorney after graduating from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
Humetewa is a member of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Nation, where she has served as an Appellate Judge of the Hopi Nation Courts. She was confirmed by the Senate in 2012 in a 96-0 vote.